City ponders U of I property future

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

The city of Sandpoint is taking a wait-and-see approach with the University of Idaho property on North Boyer Avenue.

According to Sandpoint City Planner Jennifer Stapleton, the city is looking to University of Idaho officials for a time line to determine what becomes of the more-than-70-acre property. With the University of Idaho asking for significantly more money than the city can raise, local officials find themselves with limited options.

“The amount (the University of Idaho) wanted for the property was significantly higher than what we could secure through grant funds,” Stapleton said.

Stapleton said that the city secured a grant of $500,000 from the LOR Foundation to purchase a portion of the property for the construction of a community recreation center. That amount doesn’t cover the cost of the entire property, and a plan for a recreation center is a requirement for grant money to change hands.

The city’s plan was to partner with a separate organization on a rec center project, Stapleton said. The YMCA was a promising candidate until the organization announced last month it had purchased the Sandpoint West Athletic Club for significantly less money than the cost of building a new facility.

Another option is to partner with a private developer in acquiring the property, and months ago, the city sent out a request for proposals along those lines. Local developer Ralph Sletager responded to the request with a partnership idea, and he and the city have been in talks over the past several weeks. However, Stapleton said that at the price the University of Idaho is asking, he doubts a partnership will be able to take shape.

Stapleton said the city remains open to possible partnerships that could open a path forward. In the meantime, she is in communication with the University of Idaho to get a sense of their preferred time line for the property’s sale.   

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